The Executive Mayor said her Multi-Party Government has made noteworthy progress in turning around the fortunes of Johannesburg in the 115 days that she has been in office.
However, Cllr Mpho Phalatse was quick to acknowledge there is still much to be done to make Johannesburg a City of Golden Opportunities.
"We do not need to look at Johannesburg’s entire history to contextualise my role and purpose in the City. We need not even look at the last 50 years, or even the last 30 or 20 years, to realise that as much as we can record progress, there is still a lot to do in the City, a task the Council, Multi-Party Government, and City Administration cannot tackle on their own," she said.
Cllr Phalatse addressed distinguished guests at the Bühler Group's 50th anniversary at the Sandton Convention Centre on Friday, 18 March. Founded in Switzerland, Bühler Holding AG manufactures food processing equipment and advanced materials.
Sworn in on Monday, 22 November last year, Mayor Phalatse has only been in office for slightly over three months and makes no secret that she is faced with a mammoth task. She’s proud however that her team of 10 members of the Mayoral Committee (MMCs) is already making great strides towards tackling the City’s problems and creating a lasting impact over the medium and long term.
She said some of her administration’s successes include Operation Buya Mthetho (Bring Back the Law), which has been reinstated as a law enforcement campaign to restore the rule of law. About 1,800 JMPD officers have been deployed across the City’s business nodes to prevent and tackle crime. The City’s police force has also been tasked with managing peak hour traffic at major intersections.
The Debt Rehabilitation Programme has also been reinstituted. "We acknowledge that residents and businesses have been impacted by the pandemic and we are trying to meet them halfway," she said.
The City’s transport department and associated entities are rolling out a successful region-by-region blitz to fill potholes, fix traffic lights, and provide related services. The City has also partnered with Dial Direct and Discovery Insure to accelerate the identification and filling of potholes.
About 39 of the City’s clinics are administering Covid-19 vaccines. In this light, the City is determined to see the end of the State of Disaster and have all events, conferences, tourism, and other economic activity operating at full steam, the Mayor told delegates.
"In record time, we have managed to appoint the boards of municipal-owned entities, which, in the main, are critical to service delivery. We have also managed to pass the Adjustment Budget, which focuses on shovel-ready capital projects, and programmes supporting the City’s vulnerable groups," she added.
In the coming week, Mayor Phalatse will join the Joburg Water and City Power revenue teams in disconnecting delinquent ratepayers.
She’ll deliver her first State of the City Address on behalf of the Multi-Party Government next month, and in May, the MMC for Finance, Cllr Julie Suddaby, will table the City’s Budget. She says the two events will signal the Multi-Party Government’s full control of the City’s affairs.
"We are determined to stabilise the affairs of the City and accelerate service delivery; and integral to this is appointing a capable City Manager, who will support the Multi-Party Government’s service delivery programmes," she said.
Mayor Phalatse pointed out that the Multi-Party Government has adopted seven priorities that will guide service delivery outcomes for her tenure, including being a City that gets the basics right, being a safe and secure City, a caring City, a business-friendly City, an inclusive City, a well-run City and becoming a Smart City.
"While the seven areas of priority will guide us during our term in office, we are committed to laying a firm foundation of getting the basics of service delivery right," she said.
The City is preparing to host an energy indaba as a signal to local and foreign investors that reliable energy supply is non-negotiable, as the municipality gradually moves towards an era where it’s no longer solely dependent on Eskom for electricity.
"We want to employ an energy mix involving independent power producers to move away from coal produced electricity. The City is ready to map a future that does not feature rolling blackouts that have a dire effect on our economy," she said.
The City will also convene a Business Collaboration Summit to formalise strategic business and investor relationships on capital projects.
"As we continue to roll out our priorities, we want the international community and businesses to invest in our project of building a City of Opportunities," she added.
Mayor Phalatse congratulated the Bühler Group on its remarkable work in the last 50 years. "We call upon you to invest in this beautiful mega-city and to work with us to restore the City to the jewel that it truly is. We really and truly need businesses such as Bühler for us to realise and create the jobs we need. We need partnerships to work towards our end goals."
Written by Sascha-Lee Joseph